Yes, you read that right. We ran a TEN MILE RACE.
As some of you know, Colin and I are training for the Disney Half Marathon in January. For some extra challenge (and a bit of a reality check, I suppose), we signed up to run the Inaugural Tower of Terror 10 Miler!
We made or way over to Paul's house Friday night (the 28th) and hung with Paul, Josh, and Jess. We saw Loni Love at the Improv, and she was sooo funny!
The next morning, we got up and made the familiar trek to ESPN Wide World of Sports for the health and fitness expo and to pick up our packets. This would be my sixth runDisney race, as I ran the 5k race over Marathon Weekend in 2009, 2011, and 2012, the Royal Family 5k in 2012, and the Expedition Everest 5k Challenge in 2012. We really enjoyed exploring the expo, and bought numerous goodies ( Note to self: I swear, you can't bring Paul (or me) anywhere that resembles a state fair, for we will be soon parted with mucho dinero.)
Colin found a vendor with snarky and witty shirts. I will buy these one day:
We had a big and healthy lunch at Sweet Tomatoes, and then hung out the rest of the day. I began to get nervous for the ten miles that lay ahead of us, and I was even more concerned with the dreaded "SWEEPER VAN." It's no secret that runDisney has a sweeper van, which picks up runners that aren't keeping the required 16-minute pace, and brings them to the finish. They get no medal, no glory, and plenty of embarrassment. It was my worst fear that I would be picked up by the sweeper van. Paul and Colin tried to assure me 19328 times that we'd be fine, we've trained for 4 months, blah blah blah...but I was so scared!
We got dressed in our awesome outfits, and headed to Port Orleans - Riverside to park and take the bus to MGM. (I don't care how long ago the name changed to Hollywood Studios. It will always be MGM. Deal with it.) We rolled into the holding area around 8pm for our 10pm start. There was a DJ encouraging everyone to dance as a way to warm up, and we had a blast! Check out the outfits (I made our shirts and my skirt) and dance moves. We rock - for white people.
Please excuse the Brightroom logos over some pictures. I'm in the process of deciding which, if any, we want to purchase.
Colin's shirt is an elevator floor indicator that goes to floor 13 with "GOING UP?" written underneath. I have "BOO!" and Paul has a Mickey. I made my skirt to look like those Sparkle Shirts, which I envy, but don't feel like spending $40 for when I can make it myself. I think I'm pretty crafty!
At 9:15, we made the march to the corrals, and I freaked out a lot. I saw some funny signs like "You thought they said RUM, didn't you!?" and "Chuck Norris never ran a ten mile race!" Those made me chuckle.
We were in Corral D, the last corral to leave, since we were forecast to take the longest. We were joined with approximately 3,500 of our closest friends, some of which can be seen here:
After the traditional fireworks start, we were off!!!!
We headed out the entrance to MGM and then up.......a......highway ramp. Oh my goodness. You don't realize how steep and never-ending those things are until you are running up one! I wanted to give up after we got to the top. I quickly realized I would be facing one of the biggest physical challenges of my life in this race, and the training I had so diligently completed would not be enough. I had never run outside, up hills, and at 85 degrees with 90% humidity. That's no joke, folks. I've since read some blogs where even the most seasoned vets of distance races said it was the worst conditions they've raced in their lives.
The intervals we had planned and were used to from our training went out the window. It quickly became "run to the next street light, walk the next one, run to the next one." We were also joined by a wonderful lady named Belinda, who became the "Hitchhiking Ghost" to our "Ghoulish Trio." We were glad to have her!!
We ran from MGM to the toll plaza at Animal Kingdom, and made a turn back the way we came to head to Wide World of Sports. Around Mile 5, we entered WWS, and it was a trail run. It was in the dark, over rocks and pebbles. I am not the most graceful person alive, and I was nervous about falling. We then resumed our "run to the next light" mantra, and at Mile 6, the pacers (darn those pacers), said we were 45 seconds behind pace, and the next mile marker was a hard cut off, meaning if you weren't at Mile 7 by a certain time, we wouldn't finish. I told Colin, Paul, and Belinda to go ahead. I was done. I was hot, grossly sweaty, exhausted, and just plain old done. They said "WE WILL NOT LEAVE WITHOUT YOU!!" and suddenly I felt more like a Marine than a teacher!
One cool aspect of running through WWS was we got to run around the baseball stadium where the Atlanta Braves train. We saw a race photographer and pretended to be happy:
At the exit to WWS, there were a few volunteers, and one of which heard us encouraging each other and he grabbed my had and ran with me for a few hundred feet. I never got your name, but thank you, sir!
We saw Mile 7 in the distance, and no sweeper van was in sight in front of us!!!! The official clock read "2:15:15" as we crossed Mile 7, thus being able to finish!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We looked back, and FIFTEEN SECONDS LATER, they made the hard cut! If it wasn't for the pushing my three and the random volunteer gave me, I would have caused my group to not finish. I would have been beside myself.
When we realized we could crawl to the finish and still get medals, we took it a bit easier. I knew I had a mammoth blister working on my right little toe, and running wouldn't be the most comfortable thing ever.
We finally crossed mile 8, then, MILE 9! We were back in MGM!! We came in via the backlot, and then up to the Streets of New York, which were all but deserted. Remember, we were probably among the last 200 to finish out of a field of more than 10,000. The cheer squad had long forgotten about us.... or so I thought.
This lady is in many runDisney Facebook albums. In fact, I "borrowed" this image from a previous race album someone had on facebook. When I saw her at mile 9.5 during the race, I broke down in tears because she was there, alone, cheering us stragglers on. I told her I saw her on the albums and how much she inspired me and she teared up, too.
I never got her name, but I want her to know she helped get me through to the finish.
We looped around to run in front of the Sorcerer Mickey hat, and they had a huge track for us to run on, and a DJ right near, blasting tunes. People were roped off, waiting for the race to finish so the party could start, and as soon as we saw them, Paul said "We gotta do this. We gotta run. They're cheering us on!!" We picked up the pace, and the crowd roared - for us!!!! Belinda mentioned that it pays to be in the last group, since more people are there to cheer FOR YOU!
One more funny sign was waved: "THE END IS NEAR!" I cannot tell you what a relief that was!
We crossed the finish line, holding hands, 2 hours, 52 minutes, and 8 seconds after we started.
I now know in my heart that I can do anything I set my mind to. While I know I won't be the fastest, as the shirt said "First or last...it's the same finish line!"
Now, on to training for the half!